In a world that seems increasingly connected to the Internet, ensuring that all people have the online access they need has become a civil rights issue. Today, the average individual must go online to apply for a job, find a place to live, and attain an education.
Unfortunately, countless low-income families have been deprived of the same online access that others take for granted. This includes students, who may miss out on innumerable opportunities without the same access to the Internet that upper-income and middle-income students enjoy. To help bridge this technological divide between socioeconomic classes, the government and various companies have begun to make significant strides toward changing the status quo.
In 2011, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced on its blog the measures being taken to help low-income families and students attain high-speed Internet access. In 2013, President Obama announced his intention to implement an initiative referred to as ConnectED, which would make high-speed Internet available to nearly all of the nation’s students within a five-year period.
According to an article made available by the Benton Foundation, the FCC finished its comprehensive reform of another program in the latter part of 2014: The E-rate program, which was designed to provide a broad range of digital connection to students, schools, and libraries. This would make certain kinds of services, such as some of the types described here, accessible to people who might previously been isolated on a digital level.
Closing the Academic Achievement Gap
One of the top reasons that such initiatives and programs are so essential is that they will help to close a noticeable and unnecessary academic achievement gap. Children from low-income families need to be given the same chance to excel academically that children from families in higher income brackets have. By providing broadband technology to children of low-income families, the government and various companies are affording them an opportunity to succeed on an academic level.
Enabling Better Communication
Another benefit of making broadband technology available to all students is that doing so will help strengthen communication between students and teachers. As mentioned in an article posted by the Children’s Partnership, when students have proper Internet access, teachers can use the tools they need to teach and communicate properly. Such tools might include: e-mail, instant messaging, and teleconferencing.
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Enabling Parents to Help Their Children
Helping children succeed in school is a critical aspect of parenting. Without access to the Internet, many low-income parents have previously been unable to assist their children with homework and other educational requirements. By providing Internet access and other digital tools to low-income children and their families, the government and private businesses are enabling parents to help their children.
Improving Quality of Life
When low-income families have access to vital programs, the children in such families are likely to do better in school. A wealth of important information may be explored online, from details about community activities to contact information for social service agencies. Being able to access such information in a timely manner enables parents to provide the best possible care for their children.
Creating Better Opportunities for the Future
In the same way that making broadband technology accessible to children of low-income families gives them a chance to succeed academically, such access ultimately gives them a better chance for the future. The purpose of helping children to do their best in school is to create future adults who can make invaluable contributions to society. That could be one of the most compelling reasons to ensure that all students have equal access to the educational tools they require.